I have kept a variety of pet rabbits and enjoy sharing what I've learned about bunny care with others.
Rabbit Food: What's Safe and What's Not
Feeding your bunny is a more difficult task than it may seem at first. Popular lore has it that rabbits live off of carrots and lettuce. However, the reality is that feeding them nothing but lettuce and carrots would kill it pretty quickly—and in a rather unpleasant fashion. There is a wide range of foods that you should not feed your rabbit, which also includes cabbage and parsnips.
The point of this article, however, is to discuss what is good for your bunnies to eat. It's actually pretty simple: They should be fed a diet mostly composed of grass hay (the simple stuff, otherwise known as Timothy hay). They can also be fed straight grass, but the grass should always be dry.
Three Foods Bunnies Should Eat
- Hay or dried grass
- Pellets (in small amounts)
- Fresh vegetables (in small amounts)
1. Hay and/or Grass
Hay or grass should make up the bulk of your rabbit's diet. One of these foods should always be available for it to munch. If you do feed it grass, make sure it has not come from anywhere that may have been treated with pesticides.
Bunnies need to eat almost constantly while they are awake, and the roughage and long fibers in grass and hay are excellent for keeping their digestive systems moving. It is vital that a rabbit's digestive system is always moving, so please never let them go without food, even overnight. Rabbits are crepuscular creatures, which means they tend to be more active around dawn and dusk, but they can also be active at varying times through the day and the night. Therefore, they always need to have food on hand, and it should be hay or grass.
Pellets can also make up part of a rabbit's diet, but be sparing in how much you feed. Pellets, especially brands that contain little treats and seeds, are the equivalent of loading your pets up on cheeseburgers and fries. So while your little one will always be happy to eat these foods, they should be occasional treats, never the main meal. Straight pellets are slightly better, but they are still often quite concentrated food sources.
3. Fresh Vegetables
Some fresh vegetables and fruit make great additions to their diet, but you should take a few precautions. Produce should only be fed to rabbits older than six months. After they are six months old, vegetables and fruits can be introduced in small amounts, one at a time. Sudden dietary changes can upset their digestive system, resulting in sickness and diarrhea—pleasant for neither owner nor pet.
- In small amounts, carrots are good for your bunny, as they contain vitamin A.
- Portions of apple will also go down well with most bunnies.
However, you do have to be quite careful and avoid those which can cause gas or bloating. Cabbage, cauliflower, or broccoli is not a great idea. The reason you have to be so careful is the fact that a rabbit cannot pass gas or burp. This means that feeding foods which produce gas can result in bloating, pain, and even death.
Vegetables That Are Okay for Bunnies (in Small Amounts)
- Beet tops (not the root of the beet, which is the part humans normally consume)
The Debate Over Leafy Greens
There is some argument over leafy vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage, spinach, and the like. Some say that they should never be fed to bunnies; others say that the darker leaf vegetables are okay in small amounts. Personally, I find that it isn't worth the risk of accidentally harming the bunny simply in order to give it a wide variety of fresh vegetables.
Stick with the safe foods, and you can be sure that your bunny will be okay. They will not suffer if they don't become vegetable connoisseurs—after all, the principal food of rabbits in the wild is simply various kinds of grass. There aren't too many vegetable gardens in the wild.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
eden on September 07, 2020:
i really am intrestied in getting a rabit any suggestions?
bunny lover on July 15, 2020:
what do you mean bunnies are your favorite meal?!?!?!
"Jen". you...you bunny murderer
Elsa bunny lover on June 23, 2020:
I wish i had a cute bunny
Bunny Lover on June 09, 2020:
what do you mean bunnies are your favorite meal?!?!?!
"Jen". you...you bunny murderer
reece on April 19, 2020:
what milk can you feed your 3 1/2 weeks bunnys when there is no mummy milk thanks.
Jen on January 20, 2020:
Bunnies are my favorite meal.
krishika on January 08, 2020:
this is not helpful I give my rabbits carrot lettuce kale banana and celery oh and also sometimes spinach
timmothy on December 26, 2019:
Cãt on November 04, 2019:
I was wondering if you could give your bunnies like chew toys? What would you recommend?
Marinelly on October 28, 2019:
I think it is very helpful to explain what they can eat,thanks.
hayasey on July 06, 2019:
why cant I feed my bonny
Miranda on July 03, 2019:
this was really helpful my rabbit poster
Jayden De Leon on June 18, 2019:
Hi! I love bunnys! I have one bunny named Mr. Bunny. My other bunny named Alexandra made babies and she named the fourth one Mr. Bunny. But i’m a little sad because Alexandra moved to the wold to take care of her babies. But when she was a baby she enjoyed being at my house so much, then sent the most behaved...Mr. Bunny.
Eve Fingerhut on June 05, 2019:
I love that I learned so many things about bunnies and bunnies are my favorite anmal❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
skye on April 12, 2019:
its cool because I ca see what I am allowed to feed my rabbit when we run out of his food that he normally has in the daytime of corse grass and hay are always available to him cause we always have it but I never knew that carrots that ain't dry can kill him so I started to research if they could have them and google said it would kill them so I started giving him dry carrots as a treat now he's healthy and still cheeky but I appreciate this website a lot.
Mia on August 20, 2018:
We just got this really cute bunny and i wanted to giv him a carrot for a treat and then i went to get one for me and i came back and he was eating it really fast so i looked it up if they could eat carrots and fruits but google said it will kill them and so i let him hav one more bit and now he is healthy and id growing good and now he gets dried carrots for treats
love on August 08, 2018:
i am thinking of getting a bunny
S McKenna on May 07, 2018:
My baby leveret is only about 2 weeks but is already refusing a bottle and trying to eat mostly grass. I don't think he has GI statis, he's active enough at night and is eating grass but he is not enough enough to be weaned, what do I do?
GA on March 03, 2018:
My lion head has not been eating like he has been. He won't eat apples, red peppers or the spring mix lettuce I give him. He has been eating the bark off his toys. He sleeps most of the day but is very energetic in the morning and evening. Should I be concerned?
Evie on February 22, 2018:
I'm not the girl Evie that sent a comment down below but
my bunny just turned 3 months old and I'm just wondering if rabbits can eat silver beet.
Kelley on December 25, 2017:
Can bunnies have crackers
My bunny is 3 yeats old on December 18, 2017:
She dose not like to be pick up now can I get her to pay on my lap
evie on December 05, 2017:
my bunny is a rex bunny and only 7 weeks old and not really eating
Ann on November 30, 2017:
Lettuce such as Romaine lettuce are fine to feed them. It said that in many rabbit related websites except for this one.
Arielle on November 16, 2017:
I have a rabbit that im trying to be a blessing of some child....anyone interested
Lulu.com on October 30, 2017:
Can bunnys have bananas
Jaslin on September 28, 2017:
That's a great option
Cristian on August 05, 2017:
Can bunnys eat doughnut treats
Hamstergurl on July 14, 2017:
Yea, I am getting a bunny so I'm looking for information. I hear that they're really easy to litter train so....... And this is great information. I know that bunnys will sit still on u like guinea pigs which is awesome!
Nicholas on June 27, 2017:
Is it good to give your rabbit cotton candy grapes
UnicornLuv on June 09, 2017:
I love bunnies but I have 2 cats so they would pick them up listen to them squeak! :(
Maya on June 08, 2017:
I just gave my 2-3 month old bunny light-colored lettuce! Will he be okay?!?
erica on May 24, 2017:
we have many rabbits almost a hundred and we like to give are bunnies a mix of pellets oats and we usually mix in bird seed and some other kind of pellets and i like to make recipes like carrot lasagna from things a bunny can eat (non-cooked).
Makiya reeves on March 17, 2017:
I think veggies are healthy for them and helps them grow.
Isabella on February 23, 2017:
That is good
Kimbasmom on December 19, 2016:
My bunny refuses to eat Timothy Hey; I've tried different brands and tried the blocks; loose stuff messy. I bought some food with Timothy Hey in the ingredients and he actually eats around it! He does like spinach and I feed it almost daily for about a week; 1 handful, then I'll give him missed salad, a little carrots (too much carrot give him diarrhea.) Does anyone know a substitute for Timothy hay that I can give him?
Audrey on December 06, 2016:
I have just bought some kalettes (cross between kale and sprout) anyone know if these are OK for buns as cant find them in any list.
Frank on September 05, 2016:
We lost a dear rabbit 'Boland' three days ago. We are completely bereft, I never thought a rabbit, or any pet would become such a part of your family were he was loved like one of my children. He was clever, cheeky, loving, watched films with us, lived in our kitchen, was with us and around us all the time. He was litter trained but sometimes strayed, but was so smart you could tell him no and he would often then hop into his litter tray - he knew what you were saying.
Anyway, he was only three and a half, we gave him the best grass and hay, he had a run outside and, when not raining, was out most days in his run and was often free to run around the garden though we had to be out with him as we worried about him being prey to predators, often he would run back into the house - he was such a house rabbit.
Our undoing and ignorance was feeding him too many nuggets and too many grapes and other fruit - while we of course gave him a constant supply of the best greenest timothy hay etc, rabbits will always go for the treats first. We knew it had to be limited but didn't restrict it enough to the very, very occasional treat. Within the past eight weeks he started to develop wet patches under his jaw. When we first saw the damp fur we assumed it was from his water bowl but after a week checked and saw bald patches under his jaw. This coincided with him no longer eating his nibble seed sticks we gave him a bite of after he urinated in his litter tray. He also didn't want to strip his apple branches which he always used to love.
We took him to a vet who guessed ringworm or ear mites - we applied cream, which in hindsight did more harm as it was painful for him when applied as is was actually his molars that had grown into the nerve in his lower jaw, this caused more saliva, hence the bald patched. They were also growing upwards, and three were also growing sideways into his gum - he was in a lot of pain and we never knew.
After three visits we lost faith with our nearest vets, I now know it is vital that you see a vet expert in rabbits. We found a vet not too far from us who was expert in rabbit care and by just topical examination of the bald patches advised us it was over grown teeth all along. Perhaps nine out of ten issues with rabbits are dental. We didn't know and placed our faith in vets that should never have examined our rabbit as they had no knowledge of them and their 'red herring' diagnosis prolonged a rabbit's suffering and perhaps made the difference in being too late to save him.
The rabbit-specialist vet we finally consulted prescribed a gut stimulant for two days to get his strength back and the operated two days later. The molars were in a far worse state and more developed than he anticipated. When 'unscrewing' the worst molar my rabbit's heart stopped. He was able to revive him, and advised this was the first time he had done this in 19 years - he was a little fighter. He advised that keeping him overnight, while standard procedure for cats or dogs, might frighten him, given the smell of dogs etc, and gave us glucose water to feed him every hour at home. Unfortunately he had a seizure of some kind and died in my arms that night.
We are heart broken and realise that by not restricting his diet to almost exclusively grass and hay meant that he did not have enough attrition in his diet to grind down those molars.
Please bear this in mind for your rabbit's diet, and don't hesitate to take them to a rabbit-specialist vet if you see the slightest change – the expert vet explained that rabbits tend to hide pain and problems as in the wild they need to hide any vulnerability.
Poo on July 31, 2016:
I just want to get a rabbit
Di on July 22, 2016:
Millie on July 01, 2016:
My cousin had a rabbit and it died on Saturday
Tilly Blake on March 05, 2016:
My rabbit loves carrots and greens and his food but he usually chucks it around
Chaze7777 on April 19, 2014:
Thank you so much for telling all about care and health for rabbits
I like it
jad on April 09, 2014:
i have a bunny , and he EAT A LOT , is this normal?
unknown on October 10, 2013:
fool this a waste of time
Maria on May 18, 2013:
I was thinking about getting a bunny I live in a small town so hays not really around is there anything else I can feed her
jessica on October 23, 2012:
i found this website really helpful thank you for all your advice to help look after my rabbits i got them given 3 days ago theye are both 3 yrs old and wernt looked after propily so now they are in my hands im going to give them the best loveing home they should have had
cathy on October 03, 2012:
my bunny is a dwarf lophes 9 weeks old and its good to no what he can eat because i wanna give him the best life ever.
Jackson on September 02, 2012:
My rabbit is 7 weeks old and it eats grain and outher stuff
Emily on August 31, 2012:
My rabbit eats abslutly anything he can
Madi on August 05, 2012:
I found a wild rabbit and it is injured so i am taking care of it. can they eat celery??
Jenny on July 30, 2012:
I found a stray bunny today. In the hands of my apparently-hungry-but-has-food-in-it's-bowl puppy. (don't worry I scolded her for wanting to eat the poor thing.) I take care of many stray things (cats, puppies, etc.) so I it. But I've never taken care of a bunny. It like the size of my 2 fists (I'm an 11 year old) and I have no idea how to take care of it at this moment it is eating cilantro. What do I do!?!?!?
Ryan on July 23, 2012:
I just Got 2 rabbits named ian & anthony
teresa vailes on July 22, 2012:
I was a first time owner and found baby rabbits when they are tiny the best thing is goat milk,then little never feed lettace i killed eight of my twelve the second time owning bunnys and when you lose them it is like they got rabbit fever (NEVER) feed baby rabbits lettace my three that are left is daisy lion head,lumpalot my floopyears,ans dutches my big boy rabbit.i lost daisy,maisy,snowwhite,roudy,flufftough,tinytout,princess,lucky,three leged bunny,and slickter.and for there lose the second time raising i killed 8babys please when they are under 7wks and u find wild one start out with goat milk then work toward other stuff but no lattace to them all the wild one i am takin
care of live out side but i put extra pellets 4 them and i only raise wild ones for 6wks and show them to run away first b4 leeting them go i want them to be afaid now if i hit on the side of the house they know trouble is coming and hide...
Rabbits on July 16, 2012:
here's a tip they said lettuce is bad for rabbits/bunny and am not sure about nuts
grace on July 08, 2012:
my bunny just had 4 bunny's and they all died cause they where cold. i thought they were 2 girls.
Arianna on July 01, 2012:
Can bunnies eat berries and nuts
Yolanda on June 30, 2012:
I read on another site that you can feed them kale, is that right?
sophie on June 30, 2012:
I feed my bunny t hay, pellets, cillantro, lettuce, cucumbers, apples, carrots, and tomato
She doesn't like:
She seem very healthy and happy but I am going to take out the colliflower from her diet
Bree on June 28, 2012:
I have two rabbits, and I give them lettuce everyday for dinner since I've had them. They have never been sick and are living long happy lives (both 9 years old) so that isn't true about lettuce.
COCO` on June 24, 2012:
I give my rabbit bread and he loves it and he run around and he plays with the chicks and the birds.I LOVE MY RABBIT
EngisunnY on June 08, 2012:
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nathaly on June 06, 2012:
So I have a 6wks old bunny and has diarrhea. First she was constipated and now diarrhea. I'm giving her pallets, t-hay, water, and romain lettuce every towards data. What do I do??? Please help! Thanks!
Co-co on May 21, 2012:
I have just got a new mini lop eared rabbit, called Co-co and it LOVES dandelions.
What else should I feed it????? :)
Swapnil on May 13, 2012:
I have recently bougt a bunny (white colour) whc is 2 months old...but i dnt knw at what time intervals should i feed him..he eats grass, spinch leaves, beans, carrot only and drinks less water...pls suggest
Kenda on May 07, 2012:
I have a rex bunnie. She is about 5 mnths old and a chow that plays with her. They constantly chasing each other around in circles . If the dog aint chasing her , she wil run and jump in front of the dog to gets the dogs attention. My rabbit normally eats dog food with the dog, ritz crackers , romaine lettuce . She normalies runs the house with the dog . Im trying to leash train her . Is there any tips you can give me to help me ?
Lulabelle on May 06, 2012:
My Bunny is 8 years Old and she's recently stopped eating, we've tried tempting her with alsorts but she wont eat. She hasn't had the runs or anything, but when I was stroking her earlier I felt a hard lump on her tummy, and Im really worried! :(
Nichola on April 27, 2012:
Hello i hav had rabbits for over 15 years! I have always used the excel rabbit food in a green bag as the pellets are really good in preventing there teeth growing in to there gums, hay also plays a huge role in a rabbits diet! I have always given my rabbits a small piece of apple with no skin as a treat! Plenty of fresh water everyday!!! My rabbit is almost 10 and is loving life haha :)
Jasmine on April 25, 2012:
@Brittany check out this link https://discover.hubpages.com/animals/Bunny-Care-G...
@akeasha You should not have gotten a bunny before finding out caring procedures. Check out this link, this should help. https://discover.hubpages.com/animals/The-Great-Bi...
akeasha on April 17, 2012:
i got a rabbit yesterday and i do not no what to feed it with and how to handle it.
I AM TOTALLY FREAKED OUT
destiney from erie on April 14, 2012:
i brung home 2 rabits and their cage but it wasn't til i got all the way home tht i fount 2 babie rabbits probily about 11 or 12 days old and i don't want them to die but i don't have the number to the man we got the rabbits from so i cant get ahold of him now since they moved and are already gone. what can i feed them?
jassy on April 11, 2012:
im going to get a bunny in 4 more weeks wat does it need to eat
Brittany on April 11, 2012:
How do u teach a bunny to go to the bathroom in a certain place?
New Bunny on April 06, 2012:
I just got a dwarf bunny and I have no idea what to give her(idk if it is acctually a her yet because its hard to tell when they are little). All I know is that she can eat her bunny food. She is small, about the size of my hand, and she eats a lot of her bunny food pellet things. She is also very bony, but has a chubby tummy. Idk if this is normal? Please help! :) Thanks!
jennifer63487 on March 30, 2012:
My rabbit really does not eat
I don't know why?
cutie on March 28, 2012:
I got a bunny it was in my backyard we took it to petco ir was 3 weeks no mother what do i feed it help me hice me recomandation plzzz
Matildatherabbit on March 25, 2012:
To the people who feed rabbits hamburger and donuts-are you effing kidding me? You are killing that rabbit. Rabbits are vegetarians, the poor rabbit was obviosuly starving and desperate for whatever food it could get. I'm sure it died not long after you knowingly let it eat meat. Rabbits should ONLY eat grass hays (but not much of alfalfa after they are weaned), pellets (not too much-certainly not an entire bowl full-depending on the size about 1/4 cup a day or so)Oxbow preferably, assorted fresh veggies from a rabbit safe list-you can find one at www.adoptarabbit.org under "health and diet" and occasional fruit treats. High in calcium veggies such as kale should be given in smaller portions and it is an ongoing debate about carrots and even carrot tops.
Jennah on March 25, 2012:
This was great info and I really want a bunny my family had a bunny once and it ran away ): but no surprise because it lived in a box.....
Leigh Ann Sencion on March 24, 2012:
im glade that i read this or i could have had a dead bunnies
Jade Monique Taylor Hiralal from Johannesburg - South Africa on March 23, 2012:
@Sara, is it safe for the bunny to be chewing cardboard and stuff like the toilet paper tubes you suggested and paper? My bunny chews on everything and I'm always taking it from him. I worry that swallowing some of it might affect him negatively. Is it actually safe?
sara on March 22, 2012:
The carpet chewing might be a sign that your rabbit is bored or is not getting enough exercise. I would suggest stimulating your rabbits brain and body with toys. Like: cardboard boxes, telephone book pages (remove the cover), wood chews, straw balls, empty cardboard tubes (from tp or paper towels). This seemed to help Orion stop chewing carpet so much.
Hope this helps.
Jade Monique Taylor Hiralal from Johannesburg - South Africa on March 21, 2012:
My bunny has been eating bread for years. Sometimes he chooses bread over carrot when I have them both in front of him. He's been to the vet on numerous occasions and been perfectly fine. Maybe you should take your bunnies to the vet. There might be something wrong with them.
I don't think it's the bread specifically.
Melissa on March 20, 2012:
Me and my bf just got a satan bunny and he loves to play/ chew on the carpet. i read that it clots in the stomach... does anyone have ideas about what to get in place of the carpet
angerthoney on March 15, 2012:
I'm planning on getting my first bunny in a couple weeks and want to do what's best from day one. What types of things are best for bunnies to chew on. I was told that the ears of corn that places sell to feed squirrels/birds were good for bunnies?? Also, can you feed them dandelions from the yard as long as it hasn't been treated? Should you peel/wash carrots before feeding them and are the whole carrots better than the baby carrots?? Thanks!!
bunny lover on March 06, 2012:
Rabbits love bananas but they can only have it as a treat every now and then or they will start to get fat.
tilly on March 03, 2012:
i love my bunny he isssssssssssss soooooooo funny love him soooo much,jellybean
alizabeth on March 02, 2012:
i have the same problem rath!my bunny also ate bread and a pink jelly came out and it does not happen that often
Chloe on February 27, 2012:
I haven't got a rabbit but i would really like one. I have had rabbits before and they have had baby rabbits. I have been looking for a website that has all the information on that i need, adn this one helped me a lot
jessica on February 26, 2012:
i am new at this bunny thing so if any one could help i need a list of fruits they can eat
hannah on February 18, 2012:
i got my bunny thumper for christmas im 11 years old i love him so much and he loves me the info was so usefull thanks so much
Rach on February 18, 2012:
My rabbit has ate bread and then this jelly came out its bum, i heard it would be the glucose in the bread but now they are not eating and pooing little tiny pellets
what should I do ?? please help
tilly on February 13, 2012:
my bunny is soooooooo funny he loves to thump his feet and me a crazy fellar!!!!!!!!!!!!!!can u feed bunnys tomtatoes??
madison on February 13, 2012:
i have a bunny and when my dad spills his drink my bunny runs up and sucks it up out of the rug is that normal?
wiktoria on February 12, 2012:
what do you do when a rabbit is shaking or it is stranglad by a rope
nadia on February 11, 2012:
when i clean my bunnys cage i put hay in it and he ends up eating it but my bunny is so cute hes about to be a year old in april
Shelly on February 07, 2012:
I have a rabbit and i feed him t.hay pellets and vegges. i gave him a would block to chew on. we play outside every day but he refuses pointblank to do tricks in front of anyone but me. why dose he do that can you help?
zenzen on January 28, 2012:
Hi.I have a rabbit that is a boy and he is hamless.He wont even hert a fly but i want to teach him a thew trix. It will be so cool if you give me some advice.
Rach on January 28, 2012:
Our rabbits name is thumper, she is a beautiful rabbit and love her to bits. She recognises us and comes to us when we call her. She romes round free in our bak yard and loves to eat grass, pellets, rose peddles, dried banana, a carrot once in a while. She enjoys jumping rounding thumping her feet an flicking round our grass clippings.
izzle808 on January 27, 2012:
I have read in numerous books that too much lettuce can be fatal for rabbits as it can cause constipation and diarrhea, and can sometimes even result in death. I love your hub though, it is great!
katrina67 on January 21, 2012:
awww that's soooooooo sad
and im not sure